A Midsummer's Nightmare

304p. Little, Brown/Poppy. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-316-08422-2; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-316-20212-1.
Gr 9 Up—Whitley's latest mistake: a one-night stand with someone whose name she can't remember, the night of graduation. She's still dealing (and not well) with the fallout from her parents' divorce years earlier. Her bitter mom grills her for info about her ex-husband's life, and she sees her dad only during the summer. The teen copes by drinking, partying, having sex, and not caring. The two bright spots in her future are college and a final fun summer hanging out with her dad in his condo by the lake. But, surprise: dad's moved, gotten engaged, and his fiancée has two kids: cute, sweet almost-high-schooler Bailey and Nathan, who, as it turns out, was the guy she had sex with on graduation night. Feeling helpless, Whitley lashes out, parties as hard as she can, and begins to experience life as the "slut" in a small town-and realizes that this is not who she wants to be. Will her new family be able to help her make the changes she needs? Keplinger definitely knows her teenagers. The characterizations of Whitley, Nathan, and Bailey are spot-on. However, the adult characters are too one-dimensional: Whitley's mother is tuned out, and her father is fun, until he gets engaged. This is a small quibble, and in some ways, it works with the plot, since Whitley also thinks of the adults in her life as black and white, good and bad. There are no huge surprises here. This a realistic read, with a few issues (cyberbullying, a near-rape) addressed nicely.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ
Party girl Whitley can't wait to spend the summer with her dad. But things change when she meets Dad's new fiancée and her two kids, one of whom Whitley has slept with. She self-destructs, ignoring the people who want to help her, and soon hits rock bottom. The story is riddled with caricatures, but readers will find satisfaction in Whitley's rebounding.

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